Thumbs up to Doug Gary of Visalia, for winning $5 million in the California Lottery. The Million $$ Match Scratchers ticket was purchased for $20 at Rozi’s Market, 831 Lovers Lane. The store owner will receive a $25,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket. Gary took the news calmly, scratching his ticket while doing yard work. His favorites are the $20 scratchers. No wonder! We hope he’ll remember some worthy Valley charities as he counts his blessings.
Thumbs down to Fresno City Council Members Steve Brandau and Sal Quintero for voting against a plan designed to rid the city of blighted vacant houses. The plan is a well-thought out move forward for Fresno’s legacy neighborhoods. Demanding change is not popular with everyone, especially those who profit from others’ suffering. But it is necessary. Voting no is the easy way out, and Brandau and Quintero took it.
Thumbs up to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals for choosing singer and actress Jennifer Lopez as the newest “Put Your Money Where the Miracles Are” spokeswoman. The network includes Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera County. As a mother of twins, Lopez is a longtime supporter of children’s hospitals through her Lopez Family Foundation. For the Children’s Miracle Network, she will appear in print, television and radio advertisements, including commercials that will air during this season’s final episodes of Fox’s “American Idol,” where she appears as a judge.
Thumbs up to the Los Angeles Fire Department for creating a collectible coin as a benefit for the family of injured Fresno firefighter Pete Dern, who was critically burned while battling a home fire. The collectible coin can be purchased for $25 through the Fire Family Foundation, with $20 of each coin going toward expenses for Dern’s family ($3 pays for shipping and $2 goes to the foundation). Dern, a fire department captain, was hurt March 25 when he fell through the roof of a burning garage. He sustained second- and third-degree burns on 65% of his body. The coin can be purchased at firefamilyfoundation.org/
Thumbs up to La Visionaria Guild of Valley Children’s Hospital, the Fresno Art Museum and event host Mercedes-Benz of Fresno for raising nearly $40,000 from 400 guests attending the Rev It Up fashion show. Proceeds will benefit the hospital and the museum.
Thumbs up to Fresno’s centennial memorial of the Armenian genocide. The events, from concerts to monuments and religious services, were unmatched in the country. The organizers worked months and years to give honor to those who died and survived the massacre. Fresno is blessed to have been chosen as the gathering spot for thousands of wounded Armenian refugees determined to re-establish their strong community and traditions despite the massacre. Those of us who are not Armenian get to benefit from their intellect, many talents, good values and incredible food.
Thumbs up to Sanger native Karolina Sivas, whose Web series “Broken At Love,” has been selected to screen at the HollyShorts Monthly Screening May 21. The screenings are at the TCL Chinese Theaters in Hollywood. A Clovis West graduate, Sivas created the series as an online project about college senior Vivienne “Vivie” Taylor, played by Sivas herself. She not only stars, but writes and directs the series. You can see the episodes at youtube.com/BrokenAtLove.
Thumbs up to the 26 students in first grade through college who won prizes in the 31st annual William Saroyan Story Writing Contest. Sponsored by the William Saroyan Society, entries came from all over the state. This year’s theme was tolerance. We start them early around here: All the first-graders winning top prizes were taught by Lisa Phillips of Slater Elementary School in Fresno. Keep writing, kids!
Thumbs up to University High School for winning its ninth national Academic Decathlon title. The team members are Andrew Pham, Christian Wilson, Fayyaz Ahamed, Karthik Ramesh, Michael Perales, Michael Seley, Philip Canoza, Ric Rodriguez and Sean Chan and they competed to win the title in the small schools division April 16-18. Their coach is Sean Canfield. Team members are divided among A, B and C students. See kids? You don’t need a sports stadium to be national champs.
Thumbs up to Cornerstone Coffee Company, a new downtown Fresno restaurant being run by the Light-House Recovery Program, a faith-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation program for women. Proceeds benefit the nonprofit, which helps women get back on their feet in a series of classes. It is open from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday through Friday and for light dinners from 4:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. Many of the women working in the cafe are program participants trying to kick alcohol and drug habits. The cafe helps them learn work habits as they go on to further their education and living skills. It’s great when your lunch nourishes more than yourself, but other families, too.
Thumbs up to Army specialist Fidel Bobadilla Jr. of Hanford for receiving a mortgage-free house from Homes for our Troops, a national nonprofit that builds houses with special features for severely injured veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. Bobadilla lost both of his legs in Afghanistan when the armored truck he was riding in was struck by an improvised explosive device. He and his wife, Daisy, accepted the keys to their 2,000-square-foot, three bedroom and two-bath house home on North 12th Avenue last week. The home is well equipped to accommodate his wheelchair. The new home was built with donated materials, including Robinsons Interior Carpet One in Hanford, owned by Mike Robinson, who donated the labor to install the hardwood floors. Bobadilla thanked his benefactors heartily for this significant gift. We thank him for his service, as well.